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How To Water Small Seeds And Seedlings

My favorite part of gardening is growing plants from seeds I haven't grown before. Oftentimes it seems like the best flowers come from really small seeds. Small garden seeds, like the bee balm pictured below, pose the unique problem of how to best go about watering the small seeds and seedlings. You can water seeds from the bottom to keep the small seeds from spilling out of their seed starting pots. If you're growing a lot of small seeds you may not have enough time to sit there and submerge individual seed pots in water. Then there's the issue of gardening with kids. Their little brains sometimes don't easily grasp the idea of when they should stop watering your seeds and seedlings.

how to water seedlings, how to water seeds from the bottom

Watch my garden video on how to water seedlings and small seeds. 

That's the issue I faced in my garden this year when starting seeds and had my nephews and niece eager to "haylp" with the chore of watering seeds. When the kids watered the seeds they either washed out of the pots or the seedlings were bent and broken under the force of the water. I went to the garden center in search of a watering can that they could hold and carry, but that would release water in a gentle manner to keep the seedlings in their pots and unbroken.

how to water seedlings, homemade watering can for seedlings

Not finding any watering cans that seem just right, I improvised some homemade watering cans out of plastic bottles and milk jugs. I simply punched holes in the lids with a sewing needle as pictured above. The water bottle watering cans worked great for watering small seeds in little seed starting pots. The milk jugs were better for watering seeds outdoors that had been directly sown into the garden soil as they could hold more water. Poke as many small holes as you can fit on the lid for a gentler stream of water.

how to water small seeds and seedlings

No more tiny seeds washed away and no more seedlings bent or broken because tiny gardener brains don't know when to stop watering. Being able to recruit the kids to help water seeds and seedlings I realized just how foolish it is to water seedlings from the bottom because it takes so much time that could be spent doing something else like talking about gardening on the internet. Hope you find this tip useful and try it out when you're looking for ways to efficiently water small seeds and seedlings.


  1. Great idea! When I started seeds with my students I would give them a spray bottle to use under the lights. I like this idea even better because all the water goes where it should.


  2. GREAT Idea! I always seem to flood my little seedlings as the pressure always seems too much. Started to use a water spray bottle on mist but Love this idea. Thanks for posting :)

  3. You have a sewing needle?!

    It is a great idea as even adult kids can get carried away with watering small seedlings. Um, so I heard.

  4. I use my water bottles for the same thing! It works really well and you dont flood your seedlings! Great way to recycle and reuse!

  5. Great tip, MBT. I am definitely going to use this one with my girls.

  6. Excellent tip -- seems like a good project to do with my son -- if he had his way, he would drown every plant with a gallon of water poured from a bucket.

  7. Eileen,

    Also, it is a little faster than trying to water with the spray bottle, so you'll save some time.

    And Sow My Garden Grows,

    Glad you liked it.


    Yeah, found it in my mom's sewing drawer.


    Doesn't it work really well?


    Just make sure they don't start watering each other and make a mess.


    Your son sounds like one of my nephews. I tried to get a nephew to slow down with the watering by giving him a bucket and a ladel, but eventually he got frustrated and tossed the ladel and just poured water from the bucket. This way, he had no choice but to squeeze the bottle until all the water comes out.

  8. Anonymous8:51 PM

    I let my three year old use a spray bottle to help with watering. She always had enough before the seeds were drowned. Your water bottle looks like a great idea to try too.

  9. Great idea. I always use my 7-yr old daughters Spongebob plastic mini watering can. Gentle shower that doesn't disturb tender plants. She gives me the eye when I borrow it though!

  10. Do you have to heat the needle to punch through the plastic? This is really genius! I will give it a go for myself!!!

  11. Super cool idea!!

  12. Evolution of a Gardener,

    Give it a try. I like it more than the spray bottle because you can give them a good soaking.


    That sounds hilarious.


    Nope. But maybe if you use a water bottle cap that is a thicker plastic you'll have to. This is one of those smaller, thinner caps that take less plastic so it was easy to puncture.

    Glad you like it.

  13. We've used this same method by poking holes in the caps of the 1 gallon Arizona tea jugs. We also use a spray bottle to water little seedlings. We find that to be very effective.

  14. Thanks for sharing the tips to Water Small Seeds And Seedlings. It was nice going through your blog.

  15. You're so smart! Thanks for sharing this tip!

  16. I bought these doohickeys just this last week for watering seedlings:,2280,54307&ap=2. But I don't drink soda or bottled water so I have to now hunt for bottles!

  17. Meemsnyc,

    Those work too because they have that soft cap that is easy to poke holes into and turn them into watering cans.

    Ann Flowers,

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Do make yourself at home and check out other posts.


    What's that saying GardenFaerie is always posting about people should at least find you useful? I think they should at least find you "smart." :0)


    Glad you liked it.


    I saw someone blog about something similar. They're nice, but I like this because it is almost 'free.' Thanks for stopping by to comment.

  18. Anonymous4:14 PM

    I'm going to forward this post to my husband as a little gentle encouragement for next year. He thinks putting his big thumb over the end of a garden hose is adequate for watering my seedlings :o)

  19. GREAT idea! Especially for not pounding the seedlings to death... no matter how many times I tell the girls I watch otherwise, they still insist that the little plants would like a drenching shower...

  20. Love this idea! We use a syringe for giving liquid medicine. It was in the junk drawer left over from the toddler days. It works great because you can point right at the base of the little plant and not overwhelm it. :)

    1. Once I realized you meant line an infants Tylenol syringe and not a needle, I also realized that this would be a good idea for my kids too! It would keep them busy refilling it and not killing plants :)



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